Wednesday, December 16, 2015


As I sit contemplating what to write about in this holiday post....I think about the Christmas gifts of Faith, Hope and Love; and my mind circles back to Tasso and the unexpected gifts he has given to us this year as we have embraced our new role as grandparents:

The Gift of Wisdom

When my own children were infants, I feared I would never sleep through the night again, would always feel slightly stupid, would permanently smell of sour milk.  But, now I know that life with children defies logic--the days are unbearable long, but the years fly by! One moment your little girl is teething and the next she is graduating from college.  That kind of perspective would have been so helpful to have as a new parent. Instead mothers and fathers are lost in what feels like a vast wilderness, while grandparents can see the path through the forest. When I am with Tasso, I hang onto every gummy smile and every juicy giggle because I know how precious and fleeting infancy, childhood, and even the teen years are.
I finally feel wise.

The Gift of Unconditional Love

Religion, philosophy, self help books all tout the power of love. I think I came closest to unconditional love as a mother, I sometimes gave it as a friend, I fail at it often (ok daily) as a wife. But, with my grandson, blissful and bountiful love flows from my every cell! And, even when I am back home after a visit, I can still feel the chains of love that connect me to Tasso. I would do anything for that little bean. And, that is my job as his Mimi--to celebrate his mere existence, to focus on what is already perfect about him, to help him see himself as I see him. What a gift to experience at least once in this lifetime--the full power of pure and perfect love.

The Gift of Connection

The birth of my grandson has connected me deeply to my ancestors.  I look into Tasso's eyes and see my parents and my grandparents. Often when he flashes his crooked little smile I see my son-in-laws mother. Tasso's other grandmother.  And, I understand that we truly are all family.  All the ancestors, all the grandparents, all the aunts and uncles and cousins in both families.  It appears that grandchildren, as tiny as they may be, have the power of connecting people across bloodlines and generations.

The Gift of Acceptance and Advancement

When I am with Tasso, little scenarios of my own children play in my mind. When he reaches for a toy, or squirms when I try to dress him, or cries when I put him down for a nap...long forgotten memories spring to life. The memory of a new mother is a jumbled mess. It must be a trick of nature, a way of perpetuating the human race because mothers forget how hard those first days are. They will have another baby...and another one.  When I think back to those foggy first years of motherhood, what I now recall is being overwhelmed. There was never enough time in the day to finish a thought or complete a task.  Tasso is giving me an almost visceral opportunity to reconnect with lost remembrances of parenting past. I am reliving my mothering role, and at the same time letting it go. I am finally accepting that my children are fully formed adults who stopped needing to be mothered long ago. I already feel the shift in our relationships.  We are becoming colleagues, fellow travelers in Tasso's life.

A friend asked me if becoming a grandmother made me feel old.  I don't know if it makes me feel old, but, it certainly makes me realize what matters; it wakes me up; it enlivens me.  Joseph Campbell said that people are mistaken looking for life's purpose in concrete and noteworthy ways. The only purpose there is, he said, is to feel "the rapture of being alive". That is what I feel as a grandmother. I am connected to an endless supply of rapture in the form of a baby.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Recently I ran into a friend who was lamenting that she missed the old days when Christmas was celebrated simply with family, food, and a Christmas candle in the window. The current commercialism clutters her Christmas experience. I had to admit that I love the holiday glitz. I love the lights, the trees, the decorations, the cards, the parties….and even the presents. For me, the dazzling lights and decadent decorations create an atmosphere of something special to come. They form a backdrop for an experience of remembering—remembering our blessings, remembering that there is value in this crazy life as long as we cling to love, remembering that there is always hope no matter how bad things seem, remembering the little boy who was born in a stable so far from home—the same little boy who grew into a man who taught the world to welcome strangers, include the marginalized, liberate the oppressed, feed the hungry, comfort those who mourn.

Christmas is the road we follow back home every year. It is the place we stop to remember the good things when time circles around us….

Tom and I know we have many good things to be grateful for this Christmas.

Our children are all happy and healthy. Brittany began a new marketing job at Strand Engineering, and Chad continues to hone his creative skills at FastSigns. They are avid bikers and are enjoying exploring Wisconsin’s many trails.

Kristin and Michael had a year full of beginnings. Kristin took a new teaching job at Milton Middle School, and Michael as a manager at the new Doolittle’s Woodfire Grill.  This spring they moved  into a new home in Mc Farland, and, shortly after, got a puppy!  And, on an exquisite afternoon in August, in a magical little ceremony on Presque Isle Lake, they got married!

Molly and Lukas continue to work in advertising/marketing in downtown Chicago. They undertook quite an extensive kitchen/bathroom remodeling project this past year, and just a few days ago, announced that this coming year they will undertake another big project: they are pregnant! Baby Yant is due in July!

Austin is still working with Tom, focusing on real estate, but, also getting his feet wet in the construction business.  This summer Austin built his first Gannon home. (It’s beautiful). And, as Tom begins to close out his career, this fall he built his last Gannon home.

I am also happy to report that both my Mom and Dad, who are in their 80’s, are well and active. But, I am sad to say that after a long illness, my Step-Mom lost her battle.  She passed on in October.

This year brought Tom and I a bit more leisure time as we contemplate retirement…and with it more opportunities to travel . In February we took a break from winter in beautiful Naples, Florida. In October we traveled to sunny Tucson for our nephew Jamison’s wedding. We also celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary that weekend—what fun it was to celebrate with our large extended Gannon family. We plan to continue the celebration into the new year with a few more get-a-ways to warmer climes.

Good health, a home, family, meaningful work, finding joy in everyday life…these are the real gifts of Christmas, and I do agree with my girlfriend that they need no wrapping or ribbons.

So, dear family and friends, my Christmas wish for you is that your new year be filled with these simple blessings. And…maybe just a little glitter, too!

Friday, September 19, 2014


"Above you are the stars, below you are the stones.
As time passes, remember...
Like a star should your love be constant,
Like the earth should your love be firm.
Possess one another, yet be understanding.
Have patience with one another,
For storms will come, and they will go quickly,
Forced to dissipate in the light of your love.
Be free in giving of affection and warmth.
Have no fear, and let not the ways or words of the unenlightened 
give you unease.
For the Old Gods are with you,
Now and Always."
Kristin and Michael got married a little over a month ago. My nature-loving daughter has always has a special fondness for our rustic little cabin in the wilds of northern Wisconsin, and it didn't take much cajoling to convince Michael to get married there.  Surrounded by the lush summer woods, the clear blue sky, and the pristine waters of Presque Isle Lake, they affirmed their love upon the bow of a pontoon boat.

I have waited to write about the wedding because I wasn't sure I could convey the overflowing joy that I felt. And, to be honest I am still not sure that I can. Kristin was radiant all weekend. Michael couldn't stop smiling. I was certainly caught up in the magic.

On Friday afternoon, August 8, we cruised the lake aboard our big, beautiful wedding barge. Just minutes after we stopped for the ceremony,  Lukas accidentally dropped Molly's cell phone in the lake. It didn't take long before someone spotted the phone in the water, and in a flash Austin whipped off his sports jacket, shirt and shoes and dove in to retrieve it. With phone in hand, he climbed back aboard the boat, put his jacket back on, ran his fingers through his hair, and proceeded to perform the ceremony! The incident calmed the nerves and made a fun 'wedding mishap' story!

Kristin and Michael spoke to one another about companionship, commitment, and respect. They promised to be each another's anchor in any rough waters that may lay ahead, they vowed to let their love be the powerful sun that could break away any dark cloud, and to be the other's mate for life-always at the helm of their shared destiny.

The wedding was lovely, simple and heartfelt. The day was glorious from beginning to end. The weather was perfect. The backdrop was gorgeous-loons, eagles and blue heron all in attendance. And, most importantly, we all shared it as a newly formed family. A family born of happiness and love.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


My cars have all had names.

I bought my first car in 1970, the summer before I started college. It was a very used, very loved, Volkswagon Beetle. Aquarius Blue. So fitting, I thought, for this Age of Aquarius Flower Child. I had seen an ad in the newspaper and grabbed my brother, James, to go with me to look at the 1962 VW Bug. It was a manual transmission and I didn't know how to drive one. But, not knowing how to drive the car was a minor inconvenience as far as I was concerned. I bought 'Lil Al' on the spot for $300-the sum total of my savings. Jim drove him home and then spent 30 minutes teaching me the mechanics of a stick shift.  I lovingly christened 'Albert' at first sight (he reminded me of a favorite uncle)!

I drove Albert around campus and back and forth from Madison to Estes Park, Colorado (where I worked summers) numerous times during the following four years I spent at the UW. He had no heat, a big hole under his accelerator pedal where I could watch the road go by, and bumpers that I had to wire together. But, he started every morning, and ran forever on gas fumes. That car oozed personality. I loved him until the day he literally fell apart.

I bought my second car right after graduation on the day I started my first teaching job. A brand new, 1974,  Metallic Lime-Green Beetle.  I named her 'Buns' after a nickname I acquired in college.  I had Buns for the next ten years...until she became too cramped for hauling my three young daughters and all their paraphernalia. And, even then I did not want to sell her, but we needed a more family friendly car.

Over the following fifteen years I drove a mini van and a couple different jeeps. Cars that served their purpose with our gang of six.  I can't remember naming any of them.

Then, the year Austin-the last of our four kids-turned sixteen, got his drivers license, and no longer needed me to be his driver-Volkswagen started manufacturing the Beetle again.  Feeling a new found freedom and a nostalgia for my younger days, I bought a shiny 'New Beetle'. She was a Metallic Cobalt Blue.  I named her 'Millie'.  She was a fun little car and I drove her for three years....until Volkswagen came out with a convertible model! So, Tom and I gave Millie to Kristin as a college graduation gift so that I could justify getting the convertible, and bought a Moonrock-Silver Beetle Convertible. I named her 'Queene Bee'.

It has been twelve years-twelve good years-and Bee has held up well.  But, as she gets more and more miles on her, I have begun to think about getting another car. Of course I am looking at the newest, sportiest, souped-up Beetles .  And, yes. I already have a name picked out.
*Update: I originally posted this several months ago. I brought Marilyn Monroe home yesterday!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


May Day is a sweet old-fashioned celebration of Spring that is mostly overlooked in our culture, but according to lore, it was a festival that celebrated not only the arrival of Spring, but paid homage to Flora, goddess of flowers.

It is one of the corner days which fall between solar festivals of the year (the equinoxes and soltices). The ancient Celts called this holiday Beltane and began celebrating at sunset on April 30th.
Like Halloween, this is a night some claim, that witches, faeries, and ghosts wander freely. The veil between the worlds is thin. Many ancient tales tell of faerie sightings on May 1st.

When my children were young, we celebrated May Day by making fresh flower bouquets from the blooming wild flowers and herbs in my garden and whatever we could scrounge up in the woods. Often our lilac bushes were in bloom and we added sprigs of the heady purple posies. We made a bouquet for each of our nearby relatives and our favorite neighbors....often 20 bundles or more we tied up in a riot of ribbons. 

Then, following May Day ritual lore, we would deliver the flowers to the doorsteps of our family and friends, ring their bell, and run away giggling-thrilled with our secret gift.

The kids are all grown and gone from home now...and I haven't celebrated May Day this way in many years. But, those sweet, magical memories fill me up and make me smile every May1st.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


As I age, I want to simplify my life. My needs are small, and getting smaller all the time. Good health, family, friends. A roof over my head. Food on my table. The essentials taken care of. These are my desires. I no longer pine for lots of extra 'stuff'.

To everything, there really is a season. (well, except this winter, which just DOES NOT want to let go)! When I was young, the dream of having a big house with all the trimmings was very appealing.  But, these days I long for a tiny cottage, condo or beach house...just big enough for two.

Travel is fun, and I do enjoy a journey now and then. But, I seem to be most comfortable curled up in my comfy chair by the fire, living most my wild adventures vicariously through a good book!

It has taken me many years to realize that I have been searching for happiness in the wrong places-always looking on the outside instead of the inside.  I finally see that everything I've always wanted has been right here all along.

Like so many others, I took the long way home.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


"Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise".

Happy New Year!

We are starting the new year with frigid cold temps, a foot of fresh snowfall, a fire in the hearth, books to read piled high, and so many dreams.  Looking at 2014 is like looking at the pristine field of snow outside my window...perfect and unblemished and filled with potential. Tomorrow I start across it.

I am always so full of excitement on January 1st. I never know what a new year will bring, what blessings, triumphs, or losses. But, I do know how very fortunate I am, and I know that each blessing or loss brings growth to my life.

Let the adventures begin!